Seriously, does anyone at all still believe this?
In October 1984, six months into the dispute, the National Union of Mineworkers was desperate for cash to fund the strike, because a judge had ordered the confiscation of the union’s entire assets. The NUM leader, Arthur Scargill, had stepped up efforts to raise cash from the USSR; Soviet miners had responded by donating more than $1m from their wages.
Come on, it’s one of the marks of a totalitarian state that there is no such thing as an independent union (or independent anything else for that matter).
Thatcher wanted to know whether Gorbachev had approved the donation, since the Soviet miners would have needed government permission to convert roubles into foreign currency.
Yes, that’s certainly true. But the original “donation” would have been at least approved, if not actually instigated, by the government itself anyway.
Viktor Popov, appeared unmoved. “The ambassador simply maintained that Soviet trade unions were independent and democratic and that the Soviet government was not answerable for their exercise of their rights” to donate to their British comrades.
Simply untrue. Such ability to make independent decisions just did not exist.
The following day, a senior Soviet official returned to the Foreign Office with a message stating that “any form of aid that might be given to the British miners would be undertaken independently by the Soviet miners without the slightest participation of the Soviet government or its departments”.
It was a foreign state intervening in Britain’s domestic affairs.
Whether you think it was a justified attempt or not is entirely another matter, but in the Soviet system there was just no way at all that anything as large and national as a miner’s trade union had any independence from government or party.